- Dana O'Neil, College Basketball Reporter
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An intriguing doubleheader between four teams that aren’t headline-grabbers yet but soon could be. Iowa State’s reclamation project of transferring players continues to work well for Fred Hoiberg, though this will be the Cyclones' first real test. Cincinnati, a national sleeper team, has done nothing to discredit itself while Oregon has done plenty to turn heads, destroying Vanderbilt. And UNLV started the season with a scare, nearly losing an exhibition game to Dixie State, but has rebounded nicely.
The basics: Nov. 23-24, Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas
The set matchups: Iowa State vs. Cincinnati, 6:30 p.m.; Oregon vs. UNLV, 9 p.m.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Korie Lucious, Iowa State The Michigan State transfer is playing well for Hoiberg, using his playmaking skills to dish out an impressive 6.7 assists per game. The catch: He giveth and taketh, coughing up 4.3 turnovers. His consistency is huge for the Cyclones this year.
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati The undeniable leader of Mick Cronin’s tripe-threat backcourt, Kilpatrick has stormed out of the gate. He’s averaging 21 points, but the sharpshooter has been especially sharp, blistering the nets on 55 percent of his 3-pointers.
Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon Granted his hardship waiver just last week, the Rice transfer is a huge boost for the Ducks. He’s got size and strength, both on display in his brief season debut where he picked up seven rebounds. They need them all. Oregon is averaging only 35 boards a game.
Mike Moser, UNLV Thanks to a strong cast of very good freshmen around him, Moser doesn’t have to do nearly as much for the Rebels. That doesn’t mean he can’t. He’s still averaging a double-double 10.5 points and boards.
Anthony Bennett, UNLV The freshman has been as good, if not better than advertised. He leads the Runnin’ Rebels in scoring -- 17 points per game, with eight rebounds to boot.
FIVE BIG QUESTIONS
Will anyone play defense? All four of these teams are scoring like gangbusters -- Oregon is the slacker, chipping in 79 points per game. But if a doubleheader track meet breaks out, who has the defensive stamina to seal the victory? It may not matter. It may be a who-has-the-ball-last-wins sort of tourney.
How good are UNLV’s freshmen? So far, so very good for Anthony Bennett, Katin Reinhardt and Savon Goodman, but the quality of competition jumps considerably here. There’s no doubt this team is going to be something special, but this will be a critical two nights for the Rebels' learning curve.
Are the Ducks for real? That’s pretty much the crux of it. Oregon’s 26-point win over Vanderbilt was a huge eye-opener to the potential of this team, but is there something there that can be sustained? Can Oregon really factor into the Pac-12 race? Against the caliber of teams here, the Ducks will at least get a better understanding if not an altogether solid answer.
How solid are the Cincinnati bigs? We know how good the backcourt is; that was obvious a year ago and the trio of Cashmere Wright, JaQuon Parker and Sean Kilpatrick continues to lead the way for the Bearcats. But Cincinnati also is going to need some reliable production out of its new cast of big men at some point. A potential matchup against UNLV could give them ample opportunity.
What’s up with Korie Lucious’ shooting touch? Lucious has been terrific as a playmaker for Iowa State, dishing out 6.7 assists per game much to the delight of Hoiberg. But if the Cyclones are going to be a factor in Vegas and especially in the Big 12, he needs to score. He started the season in a terrific slump, 7-of-29.
Friday: Cincinnati over Iowa State; UNLV over Oregon
Saturday's title game: Cincinnati over UNLV
An intriguing doubleheader between four teams that aren’t headline-grabbers yet but soon could be. Iowa State’s reclamation project of transferring players continues to work well for Fred Hoiberg, though this will be the Cyclones' first real test.